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May 12th, 2018

Jumbo 1320

I felt this one was of about average difficulty but above average enjoyment, with a smattering of unknowns and some lesser-spotted wordplay devices (e.g. 19A, 39A, 4D) to keep the solver interested. However a misbiff at 21D led to no end of trouble with eventual LOI 36A, providing an umpteenth reminder that it is generally beneficial to square the answer with the wordplay as well as the definition, especially when time is not of the essence. FOI 1A (as no doubt for everyone?), COD 11D for the smooth surface and an anagram I don't recall seeing before. Thanks, setter.

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Some very obscure Greek words here. Thanks to the setter for expanding my horizons, but give me scientists any day! My clue of the day was 26ac – I just “went for it”.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, followed by the wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in {curly brackets}.

Across
1 Machine shifting granite and tin once (8,6)
TRACTION ENGINE: (GRANITE TIN ONCE*).

9 I’m four foot one (9)
QUADRUPED: clever cryptic definition: “I am [a] four-foot[ed] [creature]”. Nothing to do with a length of 4'1".

10 Run in unaccompanied, turning sign on (5)
ENROL: R for run, in LONE backwards.

11 Horse following flag of country (5)
IRISH: IRIS (a common flag in crosswords), then H for horse.

12 A Squire and Prioress entertaining old writer, perhaps (5,4)
AGENT NOUN: A GENT (squire), then NUN holding O (old).  A grammar term unknown to me but self-explanatory, so “writer” is no doubt an example.

13 Apprehension before further cut backs for physicist (8)
ÅNGSTRÖM: ANGST (apprehension), then MOR{e} backwards. I assume we spell the physicist with the accents, but the angstrom unit, named after him, doesn’t need them. (0.1 nanometres, if you wondered! I suppose I knew that once.)

15 It sounds like dollar will collapse (6)
BUCKLE: sounds like “BUCK’LL”.

17 Extremely unusual to neglect going round last month (6)
ULTIMO: U{nusua}L, then OMIT backwards.

19 Saw a professional sacrificing rook against the grandmaster (8)
APOTHEGM: A P{r}O THE G.M. Now there’s a beautiful word, of which I’d not heard! Luckily it’s clear from the wordplay.

22 Upright piano used in reel composed with tuba (9)
REPUTABLE: (P REEL TUBA*).

23 Your escorts posed for Playboy? (5)
SATYR: SAT (posed), Y{ou}R (“escorts” meaning outside letters).

24 Root weeds out (5)
SWEDE: (WEEDS*). I seem to recall previous discussions about the different regional names for this root vegetable.

25 Luxurious Titanic: vessel crossing boundless seas (9)
EPICUREAN: EPIC (titanic), URN (vessel) around {s}EA{s}.

26 To understand online system, regularly tell ’em to just go for it (5,3,6)
GRASP THE NETTLE: GRASP (understand), THE NET (online system), then alternate letters of TeLl  ‘Em.


Down
1 Nurse with qualities combining spirit and something softer? (7,7)
TEQUILA SUNRISE: (NURSE QUALITIES*).

2 Pop group half-heartedly perform their material? It’s humiliating (7)
ABASING: AB{b}A, the half-hearted Swedish group, SING{ing}. “Thank you for the music”!

3 Burn chunk of peat or charcoal (5)
TORCH: hidden in (“chunk of”) peaT OR CHarcoal.

4 Central point made as Oxford’s foremost politician glowers over disciples? (8)
OMPHALOS: O is “Oxford’s” foremost, MP is our politician, HALOS are glowers. Luckily, a friend vaguely knew the word. Not easy to get from wordplay alone!

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos) says: An omphalos is a religious stone artefact. In Ancient Greek, the word means "navel". In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its centre, the "navel" of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi. Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. Omphalos Syndrome refers to the belief that a place of geopolitical power and currency is the most important place in the world.

5 Journalist stopped working and followed revolutionary movement (6)
EDDIED: ED (journalist), DIED (stopped working).

6 Relative drawn welcoming queen to lunch, perhaps (5-4)
GREAT AUNT: GAUNT (drawn) “welcoming” R (queen) and EAT (to lunch, perhaps).

7 Eastern area connected to Turkey? (7)
NORFOLK: a place in the east of England. Apparently a reference to the black turkey, also known as the Norfolk turkey, of which I’d not heard.

8 Fruit named in honour of Churchill and Clementine? (8,6)
BLENHEIM ORANGE: Blenheim palace, home of the Churchills. Clementine was wife of Winston, but that’s probably just a red herring – we’re looking for a fruit, of which I’d also not heard. (It’s all Greek to me!)

14 Siren: one working without security lock (9)
TEMPTRESS: TEMP (one working without security), TRESS (lock of hair).

16 Pop upset delicate stomach (8)
APPETITE: PA backwards, then PETITE.

18 Good hearing goes after Beethoven’s fourth opus — or fifth? (3,4)
TOP GEAR: T is the fourth letter of “Beethoven”, OP (opus), G (good), EAR (hearing). Some cars have five gears.

20 Petition that doctors threaten, saving hospital (7)
ENTREAT: (T-REATEN*), omitting H for hospital.

21 A son restricted by talent for daydreaming (6)
ABSENT: A BENT (talent), around S (son).

23 Just over half of white wine in French dish (5)
SAUTE: from SAUTE{rnes}. ETA (an acronym I've just learnt from Verlaine!): The clue works equally well if you use the alternative spelling of "Sauterne" rather than "Sauternes". ETA2: further research suggests "Sauternes" is the French wine, "Sauterne" is Californian. Oenophiles may well elaborate!